You already know nuts are incredibly healthy, associated with boosting heart health, fighting cancer, cutting Alzheimer's risk, and even causing weight loss—which is why you never feel bad about reaching for this delicious super snack. But how often do you keep reaching? And reaching?
|Nuts can drive your appetite so high!|
As notorious as nuts are for being healthy, they also have a well-deserved rap for being ridiculously addictive, and most of us don't stick to the recommended daily serving size, or just one measly handful of nuts. What that looks like in real time is pretty small, or about 24 almonds, 18 cashews, 15 pecan halves, 14 walnut halves, or 8 Brazil nuts.
The problem with addictively eating nuts is that there are some real health risks. Here are the three worst ways nuts can derail your diet and negatively affect your health when you eat too many.
1. You gain weight—quickly.
Yes, there's a ton of research showing that nuts can help you lose weight. But there's a big caveat to all the studies on nuts and weight loss: It applies if and only if you eat a moderate amount. Eat more than the recommended daily handful, and you'll quickly accomplish the exact opposite effect by gaining weight—and much more rapidly than you might by overeating other foods. That's because nuts are extra calorie-dense, meaning they have more energy per ounce than most other foods. For example, one ounce of almonds has 163 calories while the same weight in cooked pasta has a mere 37 calories.
2. You have digestive issues.
If you ever felt gassy or bloated after eating nuts, you're not alone. It's a common side effect, thanks to compounds in nuts called phytates and tannins, which make them difficult to digest. This is actually a survival trait for nuts, so that if an animal swallows them, they can pass through its digestive system and still have a chance of growing into a new plant when they come out the other side, largely undigested. Unfortunately, though, the trick also works on humans, causing gas and bloating if you eat too many. If that wasn't bad enough, eating too much fat—found abundantly in nuts—at one time can lead to diarrhea.
How to prevent these unpleasant problems? Stick to the recommended daily serving size, or opt for sprouted nuts, which have already began to turn into plants, making them easier to digest.
3. Your hair falls out, your nails get brittle, your breath stinks, and your muscles and joints might begin to ache.
These are all symptoms of selenium poisoning, which is a rare but serious condition that you can get from eating too many Brazil nuts (all other nuts are safe). One serving of these nuts, or 8 whole pieces, has 10 times the recommended daily amount of selenium (55 micrograms). They're so rich in this nutrient, in fact, that some experts recommend eating no more than 4 a day—and even then, not every day.
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